Hey! I'm Emily... homebody, amateur philosopher, professional photographer, mama and wife. This is my little world-- a place for me to preserve the little snippets of my life that bring me joy, make me think, or show my creative leanings. I'm so happy you're here. If you get a minute, please introduce yourself in the comments. If you like what you see, you are invited to follow my blog through your RSS Reader. Just click the link at the bottom of the page to add me.
Thank you for being part of my little world... :)

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Wednesday, September 19

What is On My Mind and In My Days....

Things on my mind and in my days these days....

1. For my belated birthday present, Joe got me a Wailin' Jennys CD I'd requested, and so for the last month I've been listening to them a LOT. I only know about this group because of some random iTunes sync-up my sister-in-law Mary did with our iTunes like 4 years ago... Her iTunes had one random Wailin' Jennys song in there, and it was AMAZING. And then Pandora's Alison Krauss channel gives me a few of their songs mixed in, so I've been groomed to love this band for ages now. It does not disappoint: it is the the perfect blend of folk, bluegrass, harmony, female voices, mellow, moody music. It fills my heart when I listen to it. (Youtube link- The first one I ever heard by them, and by far the most "old-fashioned". Not the most interesting video, so don't watch it, just LISTEN to it).

2. I have been yearning for REAL fall, like many of you have been. The other week at WalMart, I ALMOST bought a pumpkin candle, but it was too soon. Anyone else weird like that? It was 85 degrees outside, no breath of REAL fall anywhere, though it was September, so it just didn't feel right to have the amazing pumpkin smells in my house just yet. The pumpkin spice smell/flavor commands a  bit of chill in the air, don't you think? So.... I compromised and opted for an apple cider scent. I think this will be a new tradition for me: apples in September. Seems relevant, since apple-picking is a September thing, and apples represent the start of school and all that. Even in the 85-degree heat, I can live with an apple-cider scent, and still feel like I'm honoring the start of fall.

3. Gestational diabetes has come to haunt my house again. Again, I am seeing my house fill with medical supplies, again I am thinking about what I can and should eat ALL THE TIME. Again, I get to shoot myself with insulin nightly. The GD is like another member of this household, and not entirely welcome. Pesky, actually. But this time, though I get to live with it for MUCH longer than last time (20 weeks as opposed to 10 weeks), I am more prepared, more educated, and more resigned. I am doing okay with it. It's just a pain.

4.I'm back on the crafty-wagon after being pretty far removed from it all summer. The combination of first-trimester-ness and CRAZY-BUSY summer really killed my motivation to make fun things for fun. I missed it, though, so once I got my last summer session edited, I treated myself to an evening of choosing and cutting out fabric for three Lucy pinafores. Here is one of them completed... this one is in fall colors, and this is just a snapshot of Lucy trying on my bracelets the other day. I dream of taking her out to an orchard or a grassy field to get more formal photos of her in this.

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5. I've also been getting bored with boy clothing options for Noah. I wish I could style him in a more "hip" fashion, but that kind of style costs money, and besides-- he's on the cusp of being in charge of his own style, so I don't think it'd be fair to get him all skinny color jeans and blazers and make him wear high-top converse if he comes to the day, soon, where he refuses to wear them. So... For now, I'm trying to remember it isn't about MY style, it's about HIM, and and it all costs $$ anyway... So I've found some good basic stripe-y T's (you can never fail with stripes!) and some random fun screen printed ones (I still refuse to get him blatantly-licensed character clothes, so obnoxious!... I'll hold out on that as long as he'll let me!).. And I decided I could get crafty with a few blank T's to give his basic wardrobe some charm. So last night, I treated myself to another crafty night of sewing and I appliqued all night while watching the "So You Think You Can Dance" finale (LOVED Cyrus. He made me cry with his joy and humility.)

Ta da!

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The LOVE shirt uses black fleece, so it may get pill-y over time. We'll see. The airplane and X ones use t-shirt material for the appliques, so I think/hope they'll wear well over multiple washings... maybe curl a bit on the edges, but that can be cute, right? It was fun to free-hand the loop-de-loops on my sewing machine!
(Idea Credits:
1. "LOVE" shirt is a tutorial from Finley and Oliver. I LOVE her site. Love her blog design, love her tutorials, love that she has chickens.
2. Paper Airplane and "X marks the spot" shirts are ideas from this Etsy shop- b. children's wear.)

6. I am THISCLOSE to committing to peeling off wallpaper in my dining room and painting it navy blue. And changing the red in the living room to a goldenrod. Might this be nesting? I don't know... But I do know that we've been here THREE YEARS, and it has never been my INTENTIONAL HOME, and while it has been feathered with our things enough to FEEL like home, I am aching for a do-over-- to be able to begin a home with INTENTION and make it my own. I still don't know if I'll get that result here... There's just so much I'd change, and we're not sure we'd be here much longer than one more year... But I can at least calm the "wants" in my heart with some fresh paint, some new throw pillows, and a new wreath for my door, right?

(These stripes have GOT to go. They are killing my soul.)
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7. Did I mention we're having a BOY? Time to begin dreaming one one-piece sweater rompers and bold stripes again... I'm excited to be back in BOY-LAND! I'm thinking maybe raccoons or foxes as part of this little one's theme?
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(outfits all from Baby Gap, here, here, here)

8. Lucy fills my days with:
- Constant babble-chatter... she has full conversations with us in unintelligible babble, and it charms us! Best example: she even said a blessing on the food the other day. Bowed her head, murmured in a hushed tone, and finished with a cheerful, "May-Mo!" (Amen.)
- Pre-walking and sort-of-walking. She still crawls more than anything, but if her hands are full, she'll walk on her knees, and if she gets enough cheering, she'll try a few steps on her own. She's getting there!
-  Bunnies! She is definitely attached to her bunny lovey, but loves her Mooshy-belly bunnies and her Easter bunny, all three made by me from Pinterest ideas. She loves to point bunnies out in books,
and will even attempt to say, "hop hop hop" when I say that to her.
- Dancing-- that girl LOVES music. She'll stand, holding onto a chair or the couch, and shake her booty, or she'll shimmy like mad in her carseat when we're driving and listening to tunes. She has rhythm in her bones, I swear it.

9. Noah fills my days with:
- His Brain Renaissance of late: for the last month or so, he's become passionate about writing and numbers and reading. Prior to this, I am not kidding-- he could have NOT cared less. But suddenly, he is doing all of it... basic math, basic reading, basic writing... Even attempting to sound out word to write them down. Definitely imitating a lot (looking at a word and copying it in his own writing)... And just full FULL of ideas he needs to put on paper... In list form, in drawing form, in math form....

A couple of recent favorites:
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Noah using his new wipe-off poster to practice his ABC's. 

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Noah's robots. (crappy cell phone pic) 

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(Noah's Google Map)

- Pretend games, still. Current favorites: Transformers Prime, Superhero Squad.
-Battleship-- he learned to play the classic game Battleship on our iPods, but just this past weekend we inherited a legit, real board game version from my parents and he is IN HEAVEN. He'll beg us to play him the "real" way, but he is just as content to play with the pieces in his own imaginative play.
- Preschool. Noah began 5-day-a-week half-day preschool a few weeks ago, and he is thriving like crazy. He loves that place, and they seem to love him. He is made to be social, explore, and learn. I am happy for him!
-But I also miss him, so I've promised myself I get to take him out of school at least one day every other week to go do some enrichment of our own. This week, I'm taking he and Lucy to Eckerts to apple-pick and feed the animals, and other Eckert's things. I can't wait!

10. And Joe's and my personal journeys are filled with:
- Sessions and more sessions for me--- I have maxed out the number of sessions I can manage in a month and my fall schedule is nearly full. I am often shooting/editing/preparing orders around here.
-School and more school for Joe. He still works full-time as an academic advisor at UMSL, most-recently specializing as a pre-med advisor to the students trying to get into med school. But he is also taking at least 3 classes a semester towards a computer science degree, so my poor husband is always busy... always working, and almost never gets a real break. He's so good at working toward goals for the improvement of our future as a family.
- Just being parents and spouses. Being a team together as we juggle the daily needs of our household... trying to find time to just sit together and hold hands, though that is not often enough.... We work so well together and are really quite in sync these days... but we could surely use a bit more "us" time... Time to just talk, then not talk, and maybe even cuddle a little.
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(our most recent family shot- July 2012)

So there we are... Most of what I have on my mind and filling my moments these past few weeks. Nothing big, nothing super remarkable... But good. Mostly really sweet and good. 

Tuesday, September 18

Golden Sweet Lucy...

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Back in June, I took sweet Lucy out for these lemon/orange photos. I even posted one of them on one of my rare summer posts, here. Since then, life has been barreling by, and getting back to finishing the editing on the rest of this small session seemed to never happen. But I just shot another Lucy session, and that weird orderly voice in my head demanded that I get old photos done before I'm allowed to edit and share NEW photos... So here we are. And truly, it has been so sweet to revisit these shots. The above one, the first one on this post, is completely dear to me---her soft smile, her baby teeth, her glowing golden curls, her blue, blue eyes... She is magic. And I love that I managed to catch these moments. 

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And a few more from the first part of our little citrus shoot that day-- a little less golden, a little more crisp... Love the bow in her hair-- it adds a touch of "prissy" to her look. :)

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I confess that I "hide" in open shade a lot for my photos. These green shots are an example of that. It is safe, it is trustworthy, and I KNOW what I can do with open shade. And I LOVE these images.

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But look at what taking risks and racing the sunset can give you:

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There is NOTHING like a golden photo of a sweet blonde baby girl. The crisp green photos in open shade are so cute.
But these golden ones.... they speak to my SOUL. 

I'm glad I took a few risks and managed those sunset shots. 

And I'm glad my golden girl is in my life.

Thursday, September 13

Mustache-on-a-Stick

Treats from a sweet friend, a nice evening outside, and a couple of cute, lucky kids....
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Wednesday, September 5

Yard Sale Treasures....

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Nothing like a good garage sale hunt... I don't indulge all too often because I don't feel like I'm in a permanent home yet, and don't have a cohesive "plan" for design. So too often, thrifting and yard-sale-ing only garner me extra STUFF... which becomes clutter. But once in a while, I let go, give in, and have a blast.

This sale's treasures are all from my sister and her friends' sale. Jackpot! I've already put the umbrella and floral fabric to use, and just barely hung the chalkboard. Happy things!

Who else loves the thrill of the hunt at yard sales/flea markets/thrift stores?

Monday, September 3

Discontent.

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She has discovered stairs. Lucky for her, and for me, my mom taught her how to safely go down them (on her tummy, feet first) so really, she's probably 85% guaranteed to have a safe journey. But that 15% freaks me out still, so she gets some boundaries set for her for a while longer. 

I know these boundaries breed in her a discontent.... She wants to MOVE, to explore, to grow... But for now, I have to do the wise, safe thing, and help her get there slowly. 

I know there's a metaphor here. I'm sure of it. But my own discontent of late is so heavy and thick, I'm not able to see through the fog of it to come up with a savvy, clever parallel to match my own current state of mind.  So forgive the just-out-of-reach, almost-there wise epiphanies that relate to my own "baby gates".... I haven't reached them yet. 

Instead, I'm right in the middle of my fog, and needing to vent it a bit, I suppose. 

I am restlessly, moodily discontent. 

I am chafing in this home.... All I see is clutter and "to-dos" and dust and work to be done and too much stuff and not enough cohesiveness, and no sense of loveliness and design to it.... Functionality, and that's it. And even that is compromised when a light bulb still needs changing or a towel rack is still waiting to be repaired. "Home" is not as cozy and peaceful as I need it to be. 

I am chafing in my pregnancy. I am horrified to find that especially this time around, "PREGNANCY" is not so much about this tiny, marvelous baby growing in me, as much as it is about the opportunity to MAKE EXCUSES. Pregnancy As Excuse Machine. I am horrified to admit that days go by without warm, motherly reflection of the little boy inside and his growing movements and his marvelous possibility.... Rather, "pregnancy" is a state of being that explains why I am unmotivated. Why I deserve a treat. Why I will take a nap and postpone a responsibility. Why I get to buy a new shirt. Why I get to say, "not tonight, dear." Why I will get take-out for my family's dinner instead of cooking. 

I'm pregnant. I'm tired. I deserve I deserve I deserve.............."

PREGNANCY equals EXCUSES. And I HATE it. And even after realizing it, I keep slipping right back into it. Where is the joy, the delight in this gift? I WANT this. I love being so. But where is the quiet meditation on what my body is capable of? Where is the stillness and reflection on the spirit of this individual within me? Where is the "I am WOMAN! Look what I can do!" roar? Why is it a vehicle for indulging every vice-laden piece of my personality right now?

I am chafing in the dribbling, never-ending tail of summer.... The "It's September! That means it's practically FALL!" feeling, only to step outside and drown in the muggy leftover heat of August....Happy autumn wishings crushed in one humid blow of the hot wind. September is cruel that way. I crave change in so many ways, and especially this year I am falling into the trap of WAITING for physical seasonal change before I kick into gear with my own changes. Like I can't "snap out of it" until the air has a snap in it. 

What a crock. 

And as the Master Excuse Maker I am of late, I go blaming September. 

Discontent. I am riddled with it. Daily I wake and tell myself to resume rituals and thoughts and activities that in the past have soothed me, healed me, and helped me be whole and mindful and joyful. I try to read books that center me. I try to listen to the music that heals me. I try to pep-talk myself into having a better day. I pray. Beg for a change of heart. Every one of these things works. For a minute. But too soon I am bogged down again, and I am lost in it. 

Last night, I picked up my Simple Abundance book... One more tool that usually works. And last night, the place my bookmark was already placed was the EXACT essay I needed to read. It was titled, "Divine Discontent: Learning to Live By Your Own Lights." Pieces of it were written directly to me, this very moment:

"The dissatisfaction you can feel....manifests itself in different ways. Suddenly you don't like any room in your house...Your clothes don't fit or look right on you anymore. You're bored with the meals you're cooking. You're sick of opening the front hall closet and covering your head. But worse, that expansive, even giddy hopefulness that came from starting to integrate gratitude into your life gives way to restless discontent."

Oh, how this exactly describes me! 

Sarah Ban Breathnach goes on to quote English historian Dame Cicely V. Wedgwood, "Discontent and disorder are signs of energy and hope, not of despair." She reassures me that what is going on here is part of the process...She says it is "the grit in the oyster before the pearl."

Ya know? She didn't continue the essay or the advice much further than that, but it was a start. Her words are giving me the reassurance that:

1. This is not going to last forever.
2. This is not a bad thing.... perhaps it is a refining era that is manifesting in growth I can't even see yet.
3.  I am on the right path, even if I don't see it ahead of me. 


Like I said about the baby gate.... I am sure there are some ridiculously remarkable conclusions to be made here. Some awesome lessons to grow from. A metaphor of feeling trapped, but really I'm just being held in this chafing spot while some kind of personal growth happens and I am stronger and more ready to move on... 

I don't have those conclusions. 

I still have thick, heavy discontent. 

But..... maybe it's getting better as I slog through it, and maybe I'm closer to the other end of it than it feels like. 

Til then.... what to do? I guess I will continue to read inspiring writing. Continue to listen to peaceful music. Continue to at least BE AWARE of the things I want to change-- the pregnancy excuse-making, the snappish moodiness, the September-loathing....Awareness is the beginning, right? And above all, I know I have to continue to pray. Ask for change in my own heart. Ask for that "grit in the oyster" to do its job and create something lovely out of the discomfort. 

I believe in that process. I'll see you on the other side.

Saturday, September 1

Flashback Friday: Back to School

Flashing back to last summer, this is Noah's first day of preschool--- He looks so little to me in these!

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And just for laughs, in honor of Flashback Friday,  here is one of MY first day's of school, circa College Era, 1998...

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(so young... haha!)

And the real fun for this post, here are my two best kiddos' first day of school  photos I took at the start of this week, on Monday.

Noah, age 4 3/4, headed to the Purple Room for 5 days a week, half-days. He is proud of his robot backpack and loves to write random letters, type random things on the computer, and do his own version of math. He loves Transformers, Play-Doh, and playing imaginary games with anyone who will participate. He is tall (45"!), charming, extroverted, kind, and completely silly. I love this kid.

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Lucy, 16 1/2 months, not going to any school, but completely happy to pose with an apple and look cute for the camera. She is sporting her latest hairstyle, two teeny pigtails that her hair BARELY goes into and make her look so grown up.

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Lucy loves bunnies, cars and fire engines, mardi gras beads, and stairs. She is not walking still, but super-speedy at crawling and is completely confident cruising and walking one-handed with me. She is getting more verbal, and frequently says her short list of words, "thank-oo!", "ca ca! (cracker)", "ditty! (pretty!)", "baby", "tweet tweet", "Wo-ah(Noah)", "Mum-Mum", "Datty".... Etc. Seriously, she is so cute it is almost painful. My favorite Lucy-ism these days is how she will rock it out in her car seat when we put on certain songs. Specifically, there is a Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack song that, when played in the car loud, she will flail her arms and legs and rock her whole body from side-to-side, even strapped in, as she dances with FULL joy to the song. And even if she's not full-out flail-dancing, many songs will get her to shimmy her shoulders up and down 80's-style.... She has to dance, that one! I am so enchanted with her at 16 months, I cannot image how she can only get better from here. But if Noah is any indication, I have to believe they DO just keep getting better and better. (Geez, I love being a mama...)

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The first week of school has been totally smooth and marvelously welcome. Noah LOVES his school, and I am loving the time with Lucy. She and I spent the week getting things done, going out to play with friends, and hanging out one-on-one. And every day it was wonderful to reach that time when it was time to go get Noah and complete our team again. It's going to be a good balance this semester. I can tell. :)